Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Causes: Nurses Week.

It's nurses week and I'm so glad I easily found a willing author for this post as I have had many wonderful nurses over the years!  Nurses can definitely make or break a medical experience for the patient and loved ones.  I love Chelsea's perspective on the missed time from family and the importance and meaning of her job. Thanks to Chelsea for writing this Causes series post and Happy Nurses Week!

Name Chelsea
Current position: RN. nurse supervisor: at a care care center through Fairview Health Sevices:
Years of nursing.   Offta… years in health care: 10 (as soon as I turned 18 I took my first job in the health care field). Worked years as a licensed nurse: 8.

I’ll address the question I get most often first: why did I become a nurse?.  My mom is a nurse, half my family is in healthcare-it was what I knew and what I knew I could be good at.  And, I'm a practical gal- I knew I'd always have a job, make decent wages and the schooling wouldn’t put me in debt until my 40’s.  I don’t have a fabulous story of “the one nurse who changed my life” or “ the dream to change peoples future”. Sorry, I’ve got nothing.  

The question I think is more important to ask nurses is “why did you STAY a nurse”. Nursing school does not prepare you for the job- you can memorize labs and vitals and procedures but true nursing is so much more. It's LONG hours and unpredictable patients and even more unpredictable families, it's mandatory overtime, holidays, weekends, stress, back pain, staff turn over. It's seeing people at their worst while having to be your best- how many patients think back to the nurse they screamed at for more pain meds- you won’t remember us, but we remember you. Nursing can be completely physically and emotionally draining- and a lot of nurses then go home to care for young children and their families- how do you cope when there is no limit to how much of yourself you give.  I have been through every stage of work burn out- more than once. My last jobs 1st day orientation was to watch a video on work burn out to help nurses identify the signs more quickly- it's inevitable and it's awful. This is a job where no matter how how you try you can't leave work at the door.

I have seen far too many nurse quit in the first year, sometimes first 6 months. For most, I feel nursing is a complete shock when you start your first job. 
To say yes to “ can you work every other holiday is one thing” but how many  Christmas Eves away from your family do you take? As I become older and start thinking of starting my own family I am more aware of the sacrifice of parents. Just last Halloween I was working the evening shift and watched as husbands, grandparents, brought the nurses’ children into my work so their moms could see them in their costumes and I thought “someday my husband will be doing that”. And I pay more notice to the the nurses sharing pictures they get on their phones of their children Christmas morning before they start their am med pass. My own fianc√© knows all too well of the 12am phone call on New Year's Eve as I spend another ball drop in my scrubs.

And yet, (besides right now) for the ones who stick the job out you don’t hear us complain. One of my favorite things about nurses is the mindset that “we are all in this together.” How can you complain about missing a girls night out when your co-nurse may be missing her child's 1st step. You learn that being upset about having to work a mandatory extra shift will not make that shift go by quicker. Our patients lives don’t stop for weekends or nights- nether does our job.  We do it for the passion of taking care of others; a passion they may fade or waver slightly, but is always present in every nurse.

I currently and have always worked  in geriatrics or long term care. Its not the most prestigious, fast paced field but its without a doubt where I belong. It can be changing -. everything you think an 80year + person couldn’t do I can firmly say, “ oh yes they can!” I always say if I can mentally survive a double shift working in a locked dementia ward then I can survive anything. And it can be wonderful- to be a part of someone's livf every day- to meet their families, to hear their stories, to become the familiar face they know. 
 Many years ago I had a nurse mentor say to me:
     "When people are born that nurse or doctor will look at the clock and state their time of birth. In sense that is when their life book begins. Their pages fill with stories, memories, and milestones. And when all is said and done, when the book is almost full, they come here [a long term care center] and we get to help them fill the last pages of their book. We are there on the last page- and we have the power to make that one last positive story. Wither it be making sure they are pain free, calling in a beloved family member to be with them or maybe ourselves taking the time to be there with them. And we call the time of death. We are the last sentence of their book."

My job is an honor. I am blessed to meet every patient who comes my way who trusts me with their book. To trust I will give them the care they deserve.  


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